Oral history of British science
Higton, Dennis (Part 12 of 24). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee’s home, Shrewton, Salisbury
Higton, Dennis, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 12: Remarks on: interview progress and recap; end of war upheaval; development of powered controls postwar, involving French, US and firms, difficulties of control at near supersonic speeds; [05:20] cancelled Miles supersonic aeroplane; experiments with models dropped from Mosquito problems with analysis of work; problems with wind tunnels working at supersonic speed. [09:38] Remarks on Miles supersonic aeroplane: DH opinion it was a mistake; later criticism of it's cancellation; problems with shape; RAE opinion and other points of view. Anecdote about articles by Wayson Turner and DH. [16:00 pause] Further remarks on DH article in 'Properly to Test: Reminiscences of Flying at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment Boscombe Down', which included a picture of Miles aeroplane, DH elected an associate member of Empire Test Pilots School. [19:25 pause] Discussions on working with other countries: USA, France and Germany in development of powered controls; later collaborative aeroplanes, such as Tornado; need and methods of collaboration. [23:33] Story about a meeting with a Minister at the Houses of Parliament, connected to use of Russian Titanium in aircraft, need for senior experienced boffins. [28:39] Remarks on: working with other nations on control surfaces, meetings with Americans, good social relations with Americans, collaborative visits to the USA; transfer to Boscombe down mooted in 1952, which worried DH. [32:05] Comments on starting at Boscombe Down: being used to working with pilots; colleagues thinking it was a bad idea; improved housing situation in prefab; DH worried; leaving speech at Farnborough; [36:55] first meetings with staff; comparison between work at Boscombe and Farnborough. [39:47] Comments on work at Boscombe: DH assigned to performance division as section leader A squadron; challenges of working in new environment; Handel Davies move to Boscombe as DH boss, office politics; limitations of Boscombe compared to Farnborough, role of private firms; DH good relations with pilots; disagreements between RAF mess and civilians; acceptance of DH in A Squadron. [46:25] Remarks on problems with the deficient Swift: Handel Davies hope for DH finding a solution; difference of opinion between company and Boscombe test pilots; command situation; pilot Pete Thorne; bosses Handel Davies and Alan Wheeler not wanting to cancel aircraft; transfer of Swift to different role. [50:50] Remarks on: nature of problems with Swift; description of test pilot Peter Thorne; unacceptable problems with aircraft; later career of Swift; awkward political situation, DH learning from Wayson Turner about American poor opinion of Swift; [Closed between 56:50 - 1:01:35 until 2032] Remarks on: end of Swift saga, replacement as fighter by Hunter; Handel retirement; Peter Thorne's career; feelings when Swift problem was resolved.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.